We instinctively edit our fruits and vegetables. We de-seed our bell peppers and we peel our cucumbers. We pluck the green tops off our strawberries and we cut the tough stalks from our heads of broccoli. And it makes sense: not only do clean-up veggies make our salads look better, but it’s just more convenient to eat them that way. Tough cucumber skins? Not so tasty.
However, peels are good for you. Like, really good. And it’s a shame to miss out on all that nutrition for the sake of aesthetics. They’re often the most brightly-colored part of the produce, and as we all know by now, bright colors = extra nutrients. And here’s the great thing about juicing–tough peels and annoying seeds are no longer a problem. You can push an entire plant through the juicer and all you’ll be getting out the other end is easy-to-drink juice. Plus, you’re drastically cutting down on the amount of waste that juicing creates, and we all know that’s a good thing.
Now, this isn’t to say that the flesh of fruits and vegetables isn’t nutritious, or that all peels are healthier than the flesh. But as a general rule, bright-colored fruit and vegetable peels should be juiced. They contain nutrients like contain carotenoids, flavonoids, and/or belatins–the pigments that give the produce its bright color.
Some examples? Citrus peels, just like the juice, have a lot of antioxidants. Banana peels are a great source of seratonin–a mood-booster! Broccoli stalks are higher in calium and vitamin C than the florets. Hairy little kiwis have antioxidants in the skin, and most of the flavonoids in apples (which come from a pigment called quercetin) reside in the skin. The tough core of the pineapple contains a fantastic digestive enzyme called bromelain. Eggplant peel–it’s a thousand times more colorful than the flesh, which should be setting off a brightly-hued bell in your head–contain a potent antioxidant called nasunin that protects cell membranes from damage. And so on and so forth.
But here’s the most important thing to remember when sending all those nutrient-packed skins through the juicer: buy organic! You don’t want your antioxidants served up with a side of pesticides, so spring for the natural stuff. If organic is totally out of your price range, then wash your produce extremely well–perhaps with a special fruit and vegetable wash–to get rid of the waxy coating and other chemicals that may be lurking on the peel.
photo attribute: Jedidja Vrijman